As a same-sex couple we’ve always felt that expectations are much higher and that we have something to prove
When we were first thinking of fostering, there were a number of reasons buzzing around our heads. Did we want to help make a difference? Did we want to help shape a child’s future?
The main reason, that still stands today, was change. We wanted to bring change to a child’s life. We wanted to help someone who might not have had the best start in life and make a difference so they could be who they wanted to be when they grew up.
We finally decided to go for it. It was a huge change in our lives. Add in the fact that we are a same-sex couple and there were additional challenges and experiences. There was always this image that if a couple was not male and female then they could not parent. There was always the feeling that expectations were a lot higher. Something had to be proved, not only to the social workers but also to the parents.
We will always remember one parent who didn’t want their child to be raised by us. But through the support and guidance we gave the child we helped shape the parent’s attitude and views. By seeing their child was happy, was going to school and was seeing them during contact visits really made the parent think twice about same-sex foster carers. And for all the children and young people we have looked after, this has not been a problem. Even today with our 16-year-old, they don’t care that we are a same-sex couple; there’s no stigma.
Before fostering, we were selfish and didn’t need to worry about anyone but ourselves. We could do anything we wanted, go out with friends, party till the early hours and not worry about the small things as long as bills were paid and money coming in. Little did we need to think about activities to do or how to manage behaviour.
Gone are the days of watching Dexter or American Horror Story; only to be replaced with Scooby Doo and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Our lifestyle has changed; you really do become more active. I have discovered more about myself, what skills I had and what I needed to learn.
In truth, there are still times when you wish it was just the two of you. There are dark days, times when a child will completely shut down and trash the house, and all you can think of is how much there is to clean up, and that this would never have happened before.
But then wonderful things happen; our child became “star of the month” at school and was given a 100% attendance award. Things that wouldn’t have happened before, and it makes you so proud to think you helped make this happen.
And there are the joyous moments when I see our child smile when I collect them from school, or when I take an interest in their schoolwork and go to parent’s evenings.
You go through a huge range of emotions in the journey of foster care. I will never laugh as much, I will never cry as much, and I will never feel such a wonderful feeling as when the little difference we’ve made is recognised by our peers – and sometimes the parents.
It’s about growing up and becoming that adult. That parent. That person, who, suddenly, has to communicate more than ever to help grow and develop your own relationship and that with the child.
This is what makes a foster carer. It means never giving up, always standing by the child. Each day is different but with passion, drive, support and encouragement this is a career that lasts a lifetime and really makes a difference.
The Social Life Blog is written by people who work in or use social care services. If you’d like to write an article for the series, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
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